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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    WED, 09 APR 1997 22:40:53 GMT

    DJUKANOVIC'S RESIGNATION ANNOUNCED: ECONOMIC ASPECTS

    No Alternative

    The public will not be unnecessarily disturbed any more: Montenegro has no alternative, it cannot become a member of the IMF on its own, it will not have its own currency (perper), it will persist on the road of the Democratic Party of Socialists - defending Milosevic at the head of Yugoslavia created on mount Zabljak, it will continue to sink into economic ruin.

    AIM Podgorica, 5 April, 1997

    The announcement of the resignation of Vice-President of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) Milo Djukanovic caused considerable nervousness among Montenegrin entrepreneurs. Not because of the DPS, although absolute majority of businessmen in Montenegro, regardless of personal convictions, are members of the ruling party, but because Milo Djukanovic has been exercising the function of the Prime Minister with great authority in the past several years.

    Recession which has characterized the economic situation in the past few months in itself is a sufficient reason for increased concern, but disturbance within the authorities inspires additional fear for the destiny of further both economic, but also social trends. Because, a big portion of the Montenegrin economy is operating only as a service of the Government and state structures. The investments have gone dry a long time ago, and the most important investor is the Government itself, either through the Directorate of Public Works, or through other forms of state interventions, within which all decisions, as connoisseurs claim, most frequently depended directly on the stance and will of Djukanovic himself. He has lately quite briskly verbally advocated free market economy, but this did not prevent him to centre almost absolute monopoly of monetary and economic trends in Montenegro in his own hands.

    On the social level, dependence of the population on the state is even more obvious. As much as 60 per cent of the citizens of Montenegro depend on the state - they expect their income from the state budget every month. They are the pensioners, the unemployed, employees of enterprises which have gone bankrupt, workers who receive the warranted basic salary, families which receive children's allowance, social welfare recipients, etc. The regular schemes of servicing the functions of the state which have somehow operated so far, in the past few months due to general illiquidity, have started to tumble down, so that it is generally believed, resignation of the Prime Minister would additionally complicate the whole process which was frankly speaking, at its last gasp because of the general economic and social situation.

    What would be the consequences of resignation of Prime Minister Djukanovic? Primarily, it would intensify the already obvious economic and social problems. "If reintegration in the international community does not take place quickly and in a high-quality manner, already in 1997, our political and economic circumstances will deteriorate and intensify to the maximum", Milo Djukanovic warned back in the end of last year. This very fear of economic and social collapse, which would be catastrophic for the authorities of the DPS, guided Prime Minister Djukanovic in more resolute reactions towards the autistic Milosevic's policy. But, it is not easy to redefine the election program of the DPS. At the meeting of the General Board of DPS, this orientation faced with complete defeat. Therefore, Djukanovic's threats not only remained valid, but the catastrophic vision of the future is acquiring much greater proportions.

    Countdown of the more and more frequently announced social disturbances seems to have begun.

    Presidencies of the three republican boards of independent trade unions - of education, science, culture and physical culture, health and social welfare, and administration and justice - on the very day when Prime Minister Djukanovic announced his resignation at the meeting of the Main Board of the DPS, reached a decision on initiation of a general strike in education and health services. The strike is expected to take place on 17 April.

    The reason for this decision has been known from before. Trade Unionists from non-economic activities demanded provisions for winter, regular compensation for lunch and transportation from and to work. Promises of the Government that all that would be paid to them arrived in mid March, but after return of Prime Minister Djukanovic from the United States, stances of the Government changed. In a letter to the President of the Trade Union Danilo Popovic, Djukanovic explained that three assistant ministers who had promised winter provisions to the members of the Trade Union had given irresponsible declarations for which they would have to bear responsibility, and that the Government was making efforts to defray the overdue obligation of paying lunch and transportation compensations in the following days, while winter provisions would be defrayed "when and if possible".

    Lunch and transportation expenses are clearly defined as rights of the employees in special collective contracts, but winter provisions are not. However, since the Government has back on 31 October last year, more precisely on the eve of the elections, reached the decision about defraying winter provisions, members of the trade union are now demanding meeting of the given promises by a strike.

    The Government, that is Milo Djukanovic, as its personification in the past seven years, was also in charge of most significant negotiations with foreign partners, so that it is certain that resignation of the Prime Minister would have harmful consequences on the sector of Montenegrin foreign economic relations. This is especially true for possible foreign investments in the process of privatization of Montenegrin enterprises and development of off-shore business. The position of Montenegro in international economic and political public would also be endangered, although for the sake of the truth, it should be said that Bulatovic's faction of the DPS did not even consider this aspect, because if it had, it would have certainly offered support to the efforts of Djukanovic directed towards reinforcement of this position.

    Comparisons of the authorities in Serbia and Montenegro in the past years, thanks to effectiveness of the work of the Montenegrin Government, speak in favour of Montenegro. Many interlocutors indicate that it was Milo Djukanovic who has for years been saving and maintained DPS in power in Montenegro. Inded, the comparatively good image of the Montenegrin authorities ("good" only in comparison with the image of the authorities in Serbia, of course) is the result of activities of Milo Djukanovic and his cabinet. Moreover, one can say that within the DPS, brains, software, entrepreneurship and the good image have been on the side of Milo Djukanovic. The entire Government has backed its Prime Minister Djukanovic and announced continuation of the political struggle at the next session of the Montenegrin parliament. However, results of the struggle so far do not give much chance to Djukanovic, at least not within the DPS.

    The stronger faction had better knowledge of the technology of ruling within the party apparatus in its favour and this is sufficient for a radical move of overthrowing the Prime Minister who had grabbed all the most significant development projects of Montenegro from the opposition. According to reliable sources, among the leadership of the DPS, the so-called orientation towards reform won support of only ten odd members of the Main Board, mostly entrepreneurs (President of Montenegrin Chamber of the Economy and Manager of Niksic steelworks Vojin Djukanovic, Director of the PIO Fund Mihajlo Banjevic, Manager of Budva Riviera Djordjije Pribilovic, Manager of the Republican Privatization Agency, Milutin Lalic, etc.).

    Djukanovic himself should not be too surprised by this. He is being overthrown by the very policy he himself had advocated for years. Retaliation of the past.

    Dragan DJURIC